Point of No Return

After a half-century of basically stealing other people’s oxygen to keep this fine motor of mine running in peak condition, I’ve learned a few things. To be fair, I’ve forgotten some things, as well, but bear with me — I’m trying to make a clever point to get rolling into this column.

What was I saying?

Right, right, right. I’ve learned some things throughout my first 50 years of life. I’ve learned that working hard and being relentless can make up for a lot of other shortcomings. I’ve learned that there are no “sure things” at a race track, and in a related topic, that you probably shouldn’t conduct any business with any gentlemen who refer to themselves as “Leg Breaker Magee” or any variation, thereof.

And I’ve learned that it is nearly impossible to keep a 5-year-old adequately entertained during a period of self-quarantine and social distancing. At least by me.

Working from home at the end of last week, I decided to put on my father-and-husband-of-the-year cape and take some of the load off my wife by keeping our daughter engaged and active at a time when we can’t really go do anything, and she can’t even visit with her little friends whose home is right beyond our backyard. While this whole situation stinks for adults — it stinks on ice for kids.

I guess the “on ice” makes it worse, right? I mean, I personally prefer two ice cubes with my Jameson at night because that little chill adds something...

But I digress.

It’s been tough on everybody. Obviously, those afflicted with the virus, and the people who love them, have been hit the hardest. My heart rips in to pieces thinking about the prospect of a loved one dying all alone because no visitors are allowed, and while there have been approximately 294 kajillion jokes made about the lack of available toilet paper or couples sniping at each other from being cooped up together for too long, let’s not lose focus of that. These numbers we keep seeing are constantly growing, and it looks like it will get much, much worse before it gets better.

But for a 5-year-old who only sees things through the lens of her own limited life experiences, this is pure torture. It is a personal attack by the gods, thrust upon her by her oh-so-cruel cruel parents. It’s a self-absorbed way of seeing the world, for sure, but it’s all about perspective, folks. For my kid, her perspective only involves things that impact her directly. And this has been crimping her style. So, let’s get back to where this thing started.

Last Friday morning she seemed pretty pleased with the fact that I was in the living room, working on the computer, as opposed to being out of the house before she woke up. When I told her I’d be working from there all day, she got pretty excited. See, I’m still the fun one at my house, as the wife does every single part of the work, and I roll in at night time or the weekends to play.

Let me rephrase that: I was the fun one until that fateful Friday.

After promising her over and over again that I would be with her as soon as I could get through a few emails, and then spending two hours on what should have been a 15-minute task because, well, I had to keep promising her that I would be with her as soon as I could get through a few emails, we got down to business.

“What are we going to play, Daddy,” asked a very excited little girl.

“Well, we start with a series of challenges...”

Man, I was on fire. I had her on a treasure hunt, before transitioning to a makeshift obstacle course in the living room, then going to a round of trivia that resulted in her being rewarded with a snack. She was engaged. She was happy. And my wife seemed to be enjoying her free time.

And, it had taken all of 45 minutes. The time was 7:45 a.m. when we finished.

My wife must have noticed the look on my face when I saw the time because she smirked, shook her head and went back to her coffee. My daughter looked up at me with excitement in her eyes.

“What’s next, Daddy?”

“Well, I don’t know. This was kind of my plan for the day.”

“The whole day? Is it bedtime?”

“Yes. Yes, it is. Daddy’s going to go take a nap...”

“No, he is not,” piped in my bride, clearly enjoying this scene a little too much for my liking.

And so went our Friday for the next 12 hours. I alternated in some work, coming up with activities and trying to con my way into a nap. It was fun. It was rewarding. And it was nice to be with my girls.

But I learned the cape is my wife’s. I just had use of a loaner.

Executive Editor

Darin is a native of Washington, D.C, and studied journalism at Temple University. He is a combat-veteran Marine, and has worked as a reporter and editor throughout the country. He is married and has one daughter, who doubles as his harshest critic.